The case of the stolen catalytic converters

There have been multiple incidents of stolen catalytic converters – a crucial part of Toyota Prius cars – near and on the California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) campus.

CSUMB Police Sergeant Yvonne Gordon said the cause of these thefts is because “the recent spike of value in rhodium, which is a metal used in the manufacture of them, has skyrocketed in the last couple of years. Therefore, the theft and resale/recycling of converters can result in a very lucrative payoff.”

The high-price of the car part has resulted in multiple thefts. Unfortunately, the part can be stolen relatively fast, with the average time to take it being four minutes, but it can take as little as roughly a minute and thirty seconds to remove it from the vehicle.

Catalytic convertor thieves often target unattended vehicles, as it is easier to steal the part.

The CSUMB police department is actively working to catch the thieves, and Gordon went into detail on the process they are taking to ensure the thieves are caught.

“The police will initiate an investigation. This means a theft report will be written to document the details of any evidence collected, including items left behind, security camera footage, and scene photos,” Gordon said.

Thanks to this process, they have already been able to catch one thief and are wrapping up the case.

“Based on the above collaborative efforts between Peninsula agencies and security camera footage, the suspects responsible for the theft have been identified, and the case is being forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for the prosecution phase,” Gordon said.

Although this specific case has been solved, numerous others are still being investigated.

“In regards to ending the problem, it is bigger than just our university police department and our community. It will require the cooperation of automakers, legislators, prosecutors, law enforcement, and the public,” Gordon said.

It’s going to take help from everyone in order to fix this problem and make sure it doesn’t happen again to others.

“The police department is contacting campus partners in an effort to organize a program to offer our students, staff, and faculty members as well as our East Campus community residents the opportunity to have their catalytic converters marked with an identification number so that if it is stolen the District Attorney can prosecute the case,” Gordon said.

There is still more to be done, but the police department is working to avoid future incidents and ensure everyone on campus is safe.

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